March 2013 Issue
By Patrick Symmes
Conde Nast Traveler
Being an agritourist will take you to an eclectic assortment of restaurants, farms and farm stays, wineries, inns, and food producers. It also requires a car. In the Pacific Northwest, follow I-5, which stretches from Lummi Island, near the Canadian border, down through the gastronomic capitals of Seattle and Portland and into Oregon’s wine country, the Hood River Valley, and the Cascades. Farm life is most active during the region’s brief, dry summer (July–Sept.), and hours and services vary with the demands of agriculture, so always call ahead. And reserve well in advance: Demand for agritourism exceeds supply.
McMinnville, in the heart of the Willamette Valley, is central to the state’s wine country agritourism. Nick’s Italian Café almost single-handedly established the reputation of Oregon wines, which pair well with its wood-fired pizzas and pastas (521 N.E. Third St.; 503-434-4471; entrées from $22). Remy Wines is a small-scale urban wine producer with tapas-style food, right in town (905 N.E. Tenth Ave.; 503-560-2003; tapas from $2). In the center of McMinnville, McMenamin’s Hotel Oregon is a boho-chic option with a rooftop bar overlooking the social scene (310 N.E. Evans St.; 503-472-8427; doubles from $60). Other wine country highlights: In Dundee, The Black Walnut Inn has nine rooms overlooking the vines (9600 N.E. Worden Hill Rd.; 503-538-8663; doubles from $195), and Red Hills Market has stylish picnic provisions, including a Vintner’s Lunch to go—but with a pizza and a glass of Chehalemchardonnay at its boccie court, there’s no reason to leave (155 S.W. Seventh St.; 971-832-8414). In Newberg, The Painted Lady serves a haute take on wine country cuisine (201 S. College St.; 503-538-3850; tasting menus from $65), and the Allison Inn & Spa—all Pacific Northwest Modern in wood and stone, with views of grassy meadows—provides the area’s best rest (2525 Allison Lane; 503-554-2525; doubles from $315). Carlton, the sleepy charmer of wine country, is home to Abbey Road Farm, with five curious but winning suites in three converted grain silos (10501 N.E. Abbey Rd.; 503-852-6278; doubles from $175), and Soter Vineyards, among the region’s most beautiful properties (by appointment; 10880 N.E. Mineral Springs Rd.; 503-662-5600). East of Portland in Troutdale, the McMenamin brothers have converted a 1911 “poor farm” into the Edgefield Hotel, a retreat with a vineyard and the superb Black Rabbit restaurant (2126 S.W. Halsey St.; 503-669-8610; doubles from $70; entrées from $17). High inland in Hood River, Sakura Ridge is a rustic agritourism-style inn (5601 York Hill Dr.; 541-386-2636; doubles from $185), and the Kiyokawa Family Orchards, in Parkdale, nurtures rare apples and pears (8129 Clear Creek Rd.; 541-352-7115). In the farm country around Bend, the Oxford Hotel downtown is a chic-boutique option (10 N.W. Minnesota Ave.; 877-440-8436; doubles from $209), while the Pine Ridge Inn, just outside town, is more business rustic (1200 S.W. Mt. Bachelor Dr.; 800-600-4095; doubles from $169). Farther south, the King Estate winery, outside Eugene, has a destination-worthy restaurant (80854 Territorial Rd.; 541-685-5189; entrées from $14), and the nearby wooded Lanzarotta Bed and Breakfast is a good lodging option (29179 Hamm Rd.; 541-686-0336; doubles from $110). Up a Coast Range road in Alsea is the Leaping Lamb Farm, a one-cabin agritourism farm, with hands-on opportunities (20368 Honey Grove Rd.; 877-820- 6132; doubles from $150). Near the Oregon-California border, the Ashland Springs Hotel is a launch pad for farm visits (212 E. Main St.; 541-488-1700; doubles from $159). Don’t miss a locally sourced meal at Smithfields Restaurant and Bar (36 S. Second St.; 541-488- 9948; entrées from $16), and pick up artisanal picnic provisions at Boulton & Son Butchers (165 E. Main St.; 541-488-1112). At the Willow-Witt Ranch, outside Ashland, guests choose between a compact cabin with two bedrooms or safari-style tents with wrought-iron beds and down comforters (658 Shale City Rd.; 541-890-1998; doubles from $135). In Rogue River, the Pholia Farm runs cheese-making classes, hosting guests in an Airstream trailer (9115 W. Evans Creek Rd.; 541-582-8883). In the Applegate Valley, the 90-acre berry bog called Pennington Farms has a terrific bakery and a three-bedroom house (11341 Williams Hwy., Grants Pass; 541-846-0550; house, $125). In Portland, you can learn butchery and curing techniques by signing up for a class with Camas Davis of the Portland Meat Collective.
The Willows Inn, on Lummi Island, will both feed and lodge you. They can arrange foraging walks, and the morning farm tour is recommended (360-758-2620; doubles from $140). Ferries to the island run from Gooseberry Point 19 times a day on weekends, twice as often weekdays (round trip, $13 with car). The Herbfarm restaurant, outside Seattle, offers educational garden tours before its themed meals (14590 N.E. 145th St., Woodinville; 425-485-5300; nine-course dinners from $179). The adjoining hotel, the sleek. Willows Lodge, has 84 rooms in which to sleep it off (425-424-3900; doubles from $200). Quillisascut Farm, in northeast Washington, offers a variety of courses on sustainable farming and “domestic arts” like cheese-making, canning, and curing (2409 Pleasant Valley Rd., Rice; 509-738-2011).